Tuesday, 14 August 2018 22:40

Comms industry welcomes release of draft ‘Encryption’ Bill Featured

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Comms industry welcomes release of draft ‘Encryption’ Bill Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The communications and telecommunications industry has welcomed the Australian Government’s release for public consultation of the draft telecoms assistance and access bill – otherwise dubbed the Encryption Bill.

The chief executive of telco industry lobby group Communications Alliance, John Stanton, says the industry is currently working through details of the “complex piece of legislation” and “looking for ways in which it might be improved and understanding the implications of the new rules for our industry”.

The draft Assistance and Access Bill extends significantly the reach of government and its agencies and the types of assistance that can be requested or required from telecommunications players in Australia or companies providing communications products and services to Australia from offshore.

“The draft Bill includes amendments to a number of existing Acts. It will take some time to get a clear picture as to what is being proposed and whether the draft legislation is practical and provides sufficient clarity to allow our industry to implement the new regime in the relevant timeframes envisaged by the law,” Stanton said.

“We will make a submission in response to the exposure draft and continue to engage closely with government and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that Australia is protected by a practical approach that balances security needs and individual freedoms.”

In an analysis of the draft encryption bill, the iTWire’s Sam Varghese says that “The Australian Government has left open the door for enforcement agencies to use specific cracks to gain access to encrypted communications on specific devices, given the language it has used in a draft of a new cyber law."

“There has been much speculation over the last year about what Canberra would do with regard to encryption. The draft law issued on Tuesday indicates that no foolhardy attempt will be made to insert generic backdoors,” Varghese writes.

The government has invited feedback on the draft bill which can be sent to assistancebill.consultation@homeaffairs.gov.au by 10 September.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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